On plans

So, for the summer, I thought I would lighten my load by posting once a week.  You know what?  I *like* only posting once a week!  I am going to continue the trend.  It just seems sensible, what with all I have bitten off.

School is back in session for us, and with it a shift in the flow of the day.  It’s fun and good:  we’re all earlier to bed, earlier to rise.  Okay, maybe “fun” is the wrong word as we all seem a bit more harried, but that could simply be us adjusting our schedules.  And with a new year comes homework (!) and more nightly music lessons and projects of interest.  One project:  Learning to spin.  And knit what we spin.  Oh boy.

Me doing the usual bite-lip-in-concentration thing

Another new-ish thing for the late summer/fall is that I have begun an informal CSA.  I only have five subscribers but goodness, I didn’t plant my summer garden thinking I was to harvest enough for six households…in other words, it’s a stretch!  Fortunately, it IS informal, and the mix of goods is broad (yogurt/kefir/cheese, eggs, veg, fruit, bread, and canned goods, as well as fresh ferments like krauts and kimchi as I make them.  And leftovers.  My subscribers aren’t picky, and actually appreciate a quart of bean soup.).  We all just figured on a weekly dollar amount and I will scare up enough victuals to hit that number.  So far, it’s been working.  The summer CSA will focus more on veg and the fall/winter more on salad…and oven bread and beans and the like.

Next year is projected to be a Year of Meat.  We will be raising meat chickens for the CSA members.  I am also going to get into meat rabbits, and Tom wants to do bees (which are not meat but, you know, honey is wonderful).  We are also toying with the idea of a fiber animal or two (either one angora goat or two sheep…we don’t want to do angora rabbits as the brushing sessions seem too time-intensive).  It’s all part of a piece, really, about learning, sharing, and doing.  For us, doing is being, and when we’re growing and learning new things, we’re happy.

Everything is an evolution, whether one is adding to one’s workload or reducing it.  Right?

15 responses to “On plans

  1. Sounds wonderful!

  2. We love our sheep – I’d recommend them over Angora goats, which can have health problems. We have one Shetland and a Jacob/Lincoln cross we bought to keep her company – if I had the cash, I would have bought two Shetlands. Theyt are hardy and hardly any work – our shearer even worms them and clips their hooves for us. We have over 12 lbs of really nice roving now – beuatiful stuff!

  3. Say YES to bees! How much do I love our honey? Alot!! Bees are just marvelous to observe. Looking forward to this coming spring and summer, seeing/tasting what they will have for us. Bees make me very happy: those little creatures of the sun!

  4. Well your closing line is very true, we’ve been at this for over two decades and guess what we’re STILL learning LOL!

    I’d love to get bees, but there is so much going on in the way of troubles with bees in our area, I just can’t see spending the $$ to fail.

    We did an informal CSA to as well as Farmer’s Market and a small roadside stand infront of our driveway. I like the CSA best, we put the baskets of produce, breads and whatnot together and have a pick up time between 1-5pm. We did however deliver to a few elderly members from time to time, due to illness or injury.

    Sounds like you’re moving right along, keep up the good work.

  5. How cool that you’ve gotten together a CSA- good luck!

    I would nudge you in the direction of sheep as well. It occurred to me recently that if I had a small acreage with enough room for only one kind of animal (not counting the chickens) I’d do sheep because you can get a lot of wool from them, get milk from them (I love sheep’s cheese), and get lambs for meat from them (although I’d have to have someone else do the deed- they are just so darn cute, but you can’t have a bunch of rams around). On a small space, they do a lot for you.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  6. How marvelous! I really admire you for putting together your CSA. Can I ask how much you charge, since I might be doing the same thing over here in my neck of the woods some day? I’m SO excited that I might get to read about you raising meat chickens and fiber goats and the like. I should be getting my own first honey next year, too, and I might also be trying out meat chickens though I’m pretty nervous about it.

  7. So wonderful! If I lived near you, I would force you to take me as another CSA subscriber! 😉 Seems such a natural evolution for your farm.
    I’m hopeful we can get two hives next year. Our city made it legal last year. Good news because we eat a lot of honey! Keep us posted (weekly!)!

  8. El how cool! You are living the dream lady. If only I could get my husband and kids on board…but until then I’ll keep plugging away on my 1/4 acre and stirring the pot.

  9. I thought it was in Bernd Heinrich’s”Summer World” which I read recently but then recalled it was a Nat Geo or some such thing I saw recently where the guy lived on insects for a month or more.One of the things he had was something where you eat the bees,honeycomb and lavre all at once.It looked rather crunchy.

  10. I’d push you toward sheep also, but only because one lond goat can get into a ton of mischief! They are a lot of fun, but they need the company of other goats.
    Oh, and to Paula, since she’s doing fiber animals, she could certainly have “rams” around, except you have them neutered and call them “weathers”. They’ll still grow hair!

  11. Thumb ups on the nano CSA! Some days I scratch my head into what I am going to put into the subscription baskets that I do, but at the end, it works. And if some weeks are a little low, on good weeks, it’s more than full.

    Perfect understanding with ones’ customers is all’s that needed to make it work.

  12. Thank you, Liz!

    Shannon, I defer to your experience; I have always thought Shetlands were terribly cute if nothing else, and have appreciated how much they vary (and the 1000 names for each variation; those islanders must have lots of time on their hands). I am leaning toward sheep for the lawn-mowing service alone…

    Nada it must be fun seeing everything reawaken again. Does it get so cold that you must feed them too, or did you leave them with enough stored honey to eat? I think it’s a definite possibility that next year = bee year.

    Kelle, hah! Never enough time for everything, but gosh if you actually do get things done like we did this weekend you feel really great…until you kind of look at what is ahead of you to be done. We had bee problems a few years back but now most of the keepers I have spoken with say things are a lot more stable. Hopefully that’s the case by you too…if you find time to get into it, hah! And yeah, putting together these boxes is quite fun. I hope you’d been able to continue something with the older folks.

    Thanks, Paula. The goats have been so fun that hey, why not more ruminants. As a joke I tend to get Tom presents I know he won’t like, like the books on sheep and goat care I got him years ago…gifts with a purpose, I say! I know many people prefer Icelandic sheep for their triple purpose use. I always wonder if that means they’re great at all three things (milk/wool/meat) or are only marginal on all. I am sure someone will tell me.

    Diana, hah, don’t be nervous about meat chickens. Like anything, it just pays to pay attention, and learn from your mistakes. As far as pricing goes, I am not doing subscriptions per se but I do know what the going rate is for a CSA subscription around here. So for example an 18 week CSA is about $500 which is roughly $30 a week. Likewise, if you have a milk share around here a half-gallon of goat milk is $8, so…I charge accordingly if it’s yogurt or cheese, etc. Just do a little homework in your area to figure out a reasonable price for you.

    Amanda, that’s great news about Ypsi and bees. Heck, you’ve got chickens so it’s so enlightened! And of course I would add you if the miles weren’t so many…

    Annette, baby steps. My husband was SO not into all of this 5 years ago! Now he’s a convert. I suppose me drumming my fists on the table for 6 has helped his conversion, though 🙂

    Yikes John I suppose it’s a matter of how hungry you are, right? I do know that insects outnumber us greatly so it’s a matter of time I suppose before grubs are served up at 4-star restaurants. And there are many peoples currently on this planet that loves them some bugs. Cultural food taboos, they’re funny things.

    Hi Karen. Yep, I have goats which is why I would add one lonely fiber goat. I am on the fence; they’re not as hardy as my Alpines…plus they need their horns to sweat through so it’s probably sheep for us, as I don’t want a gored goat.

    Sylvie, hah, indeed. See my post today about adding the savory bread pudding!! Yup, it’s fun, right?

  13. El,

    It does get below 0 celsius often enough and it’s cold for here but nothing to a Northern Hemisphere winter. On sunny winter days, you will see bees out…working camellias, hellebores, various winter bulbs and the various wattles but it’s not frenzied activity. We tend to leave enough honey to see them through the late autumn and winter and don’t open the hives until mid -September, when the weather starts to warm up. We need to open the hives this weekend to see the state of things.

    Last summer, we harvested 60-70kgs of honey from the main extraction. However, they were working a flow and we had a smaller secondary extraction (about 25kgs) about 5 weeks later. They were threatening to swarm for lack of space. I did very little actual extracting due to being heavily pregnant….lots of jar washing, sterilizing, organising for me whilst my sister and husband did all the heavy lifting. That second honey extraction happened three days before my son was born. I can laugh about it now but at the time…well, you can imagine.

  14. Hi El! It’s so great to hear you have a CSA going, and to see (a few entries later) that your harvest has been so wonderful! Deer and groundhogs and possums and moles and squirrels (oh my) have brought my apartment-backyard harvest down to some tomatoes, beans, and peppers, but still delicious. Anyway, so exciting, too, to see that you’re learning to spin and knit. I don’t spin yet, but do knit quite often…once you get the basics down, with your architect’s mind you might want to try out socks – so warm and so satisfying once finished, in a very utilitarian way!

    • Thanks, Sarah! It’s funny what you said about your urban animal woes. I remember going for a week “up north” when I lived in Minneapolis and I was kind of disturbed by how few animals I saw the whole time I was there. “There’s more life in my urban back yard,” I thought, and indeed it was true with my garden. Now, the only evil creatures eating my veggies (except bugs of course) are the dingdang chickens!

      I will take your tip about socks. I am kind of a fool for wool socks so they’re SO on my list of things-to-make. (yay!)

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